Deep love of animals, creating jobs key drivers for Kristin Peck as she leads Zoetis
Growing up with pets like dogs, cats, horses, and birds as part of her family, Kristin Peck developed a deep love for animals.
“My mom raised Morgan horses, and my dad helped produce rodeos,” says Peck, who is the CEO of Zoetis. “Ironically, my first job in high school was at a Zoetis legacy company in animal health.”
She is also committed to driving economic growth to create jobs.
“As a student at Georgetown University studying history and Spanish, I spent a semester teaching Spanish to indigenous children in Ecuador. The goal was to care for them and teach them Spanish so their parents could try to get jobs,” Peck says. “I soon realized learning Spanish would not advance these kids’ futures if there was no economic growth to create jobs for their families. That drove me to pursue business as a way of creating jobs and opportunities for people.”
By combining these two passions as CEO of Zoetis, Peck is working to improve the health of animals and positively impact the people who care for and depend on them.
Successful Farming had the chance to catch up with Peck ahead of her virtual appearance at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit, which is being held September 14, 2020. As the opening keynote speaker, Peck shared highlights of what she’ll be addressing in her session on “The Role of Animal AgTech in Future Food Security and Sustainability” as well as the rewards and challenges of being the CEO of Zoetis.
SF: What critical changes are we witnessing within animal agriculture, and how can we accelerate progress in animal health, nutrition, and precision?
KP: Productivity and efficiency needs have never been greater as constraints from the pandemic, a growing world population, and the need to address environmental concerns continue to mount. New digital tools like wearable sensors provide greater intelligence about the health of farm animals, and genetic tests are becoming increasingly important as producers are able to select the healthiest traits among animals. We also see more emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint – helping producers do more while using fewer resources to raise healthier and more productive animals through new technologies and better production methods.
Modern farming methods implemented in the past decades demonstrate the power of science and technology. For instance, in the 1970s, U.S. farmers had to produce 140 million heads of cattle to meet consumer demand for beef. Today, it’s 90 million. Between 1964 and 2014, the amount of greenhouse gas associated with the production of a glass of milk was reduced by 50%. With genetics, data, technology, and new innovations, we will only continue to improve the sustainability of livestock production.
SF: How do we harness the power of technology, innovation, and leadership in animal agriculture to feed the world sustainably, safely, and securely?
KP: Zoetis is proud to contribute to the important role healthy animals play in our society when it comes to nurturing a safe, sustainable food supply. It starts with care and collaboration – including partnerships with local communities, scholarships to enhance access to veterinary education, and advancing the professions of livestock farming and veterinary care.
It’s also about continuous innovation, with products and solutions that enhance farm productivity while improving animal welfare; reducing carbon emissions, water use, and labor; and driving the responsible use of antibiotics. It also requires a preventive approach to animal health – through the use of genetics, diagnostics, sensors, and other technologies that can provide greater insight into an animal’s health and behavior to detect potential diseases sooner; and vaccines and treatments that prevent disease and improve animal welfare.
Expanding access to veterinary care in developing markets is also key. One example is our African Livestock Productivity and Health Advancement (A.L.P.H.A.) initiative, where we have increased the availability of veterinary medicines, created sustainable diagnostic networks, and provided training and education to farmers in sub-Saharan Africa – all of which is helping them provide a safe and sustainable food supply. It’s also about combating diseases that pose risk to animals and humans. Our Center for Transboundary and Emerging Diseases (CTED), is developing vaccines for high-impact emerging diseases globally.
SF: How does the acquisition of Performance Livestock Analytics help Zoetis play a role in achieving this (feeding the world sustainably, safely, and securely)?
KP: The addition of Performance Livestock Analytics – a technology company that simplifies data and analytics for the livestock industry – will help Zoetis accelerate progress in precision livestock farming and improve sustainability of producers’ operations. Precision livestock farming can help enhance producers’ decision-making, right down to the level of each individual animal. The data derived from these digital platforms and technology can help maximize health and well-being, performance, efficiency, and even sustainability, across livestock operations. They turn data into useful insights that inform health and management decisions – and healthier animals build a healthier world.
SF: What is the most rewarding part of your job? What is the most challenging part of your job?
KP: The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that our business purpose is also a social purpose. Whether it’s caring for the pets that give us joy and comfort or the farm animals that contribute to a safe and healthy food supply, our purpose and culture has fueled our ability to achieve our mission.
By far, the most challenging part as CEO has been the outbreak of COVID-19. At the beginning of the year, I rolled out a strategy for growth and launched my 100-day plan to travel and meet Zoetis colleagues and customers around the world. Obviously, meetings became virtual, but the pandemic brought us closer with strong coordination of my leadership team, constant communication with our colleagues, and empowering local leaders to make decisions and prioritize the safety of their teams during the pandemic.
In January 2020, Kristin Peck was appointed chief executive officer of Zoetis, an animal health company that has approximately $6 billion in annual revenue and 10,000 employees worldwide. Ms. Peck is also a member of the Zoetis board of directors.
Prior to becoming CEO, Peck was executive vice president and group president, U.S. operations, business development and strategy at Zoetis. In this position, she helped usher Zoetis through its initial public offering in 2013 and has been a driving force of change in many roles within the company including global manufacturing and supply, global poultry, global diagnostics, corporate development, and new product marketing and global market research.
Before joining Zoetis, Peck served as executive vice president, worldwide business development and innovation at Pfizer Inc. and as a member of Pfizer’s executive leadership team. In this role, she was responsible for the evaluation of strategic alternatives for Pfizer’s Animal Health and Nutrition businesses – paving the way for a public animal health company and attractive investment opportunity.
As a recipient of the 2019 Feather in Her Cap Award, Peck has been recognized for her leadership and contributions to the animal health industry, and her work in mentoring women and helping them advance their careers in animal health.
Peck holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.